Two potentially significant tidbits regarding the Cubs 2011 draft have already come out this week. Two of the more notable names the Cubs chose are either reported to have signed already or are expected to sign soon. Both guys were thought to be strongly committed to college prior to the draft.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Trevor Gretzky has been signed away from his commitment to San Diego State University. Gretzky was taken by the Cubs in the 7th round out of high school and plays first base. Fellow 1B Paul Hoilman (19th) has already signed with the Cubs and is currently playing in the minors, and 1B Dan Vogelbach (2nd) is thought to be close to signing.
With three first baseman likely to be under contract soon, including two from the first ten rounds, the Cubs may opt to not go much over slot to sign 1B Rock Shoulders (25th). That’s not to say that the Cubs won’t try to sign Shoulders, just that they may not be as willing to spend to get him since they will already have three first basemen from this draft.
The Gretzky signing has not yet been announced or made official. Once it is, I think we will see Gretzky report to the Arizona Rookie League. If memory serves, Gretzky shows the promise of developing a fair amount of power as he fills out, but is still considered rather raw.
Meanwhile, in his weekly chat on Baseball America, Jim Callis made this comment.
"Jim Callis: I’m hearing they’ll get Dunston done. Maples will be the tougher sign."
The Dunston referred to is Shawon Dunston Jr., taken by the Cubs in the 11th round. Dunston was thought to be very strongly committed to Vanderbilt, so if the Cubs can bring him into the farm system it will be a bit of a coup for the team. Dunston is a center fielder who is said to have a good arm and plenty of speed. If he signs in time, he will most likely report to the Arizona Rookie League as well.
The Maples that Jim Callis referred to is Dillon Maples, a right handed pitcher taken by the Cubs in 14th round. Maples was an absolute steal in the 14th round. He was rated highly enough to go as as a supplemental first round pick, but fell due to fears that he would not sign. Maples could be playing football for North Carolina if he passes on the Cubs.
The Cubs have a good history of signing players away from football commitments. Logan Watkins is one fairly recent example. It will no doubt take second round money to land Maples, and that means we likely won’t hear about a deal until very close to the August 15th deadline. Ricketts has shown repeatedly that he is willing to spend in order to sign talent into the Cubs organization, so I don’t think money will be an issue. It will just come down how badly Maples wants to play football.